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What are we protecting? - A study of the Swedish regulation of deal protection arrangements

Gustavsson, Marcus LU (2018) JURM02 20182
Department of Law
Faculty of Law
Abstract
The thesis evaluates and examines the effects of the Swedish regulation of deal protection arrangements by looking to the impact of the provision on the Swedish capital market and target shareholders. The foundations of the Swedish takeover regulation are examined by presenting and arguing the relevant provisions in, and relationship between, stock exchange law, corporate law and EU law.

Fiduciary duties of target board directors in Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. are examined. When takeover regulation apply, Swedish target boards are to exclusively observe the collective interest of the shareholders in any action in response to a takeover offer. The shareholders’ interest in a takeover context is determined to be that of maximum return... (More)
The thesis evaluates and examines the effects of the Swedish regulation of deal protection arrangements by looking to the impact of the provision on the Swedish capital market and target shareholders. The foundations of the Swedish takeover regulation are examined by presenting and arguing the relevant provisions in, and relationship between, stock exchange law, corporate law and EU law.

Fiduciary duties of target board directors in Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. are examined. When takeover regulation apply, Swedish target boards are to exclusively observe the collective interest of the shareholders in any action in response to a takeover offer. The shareholders’ interest in a takeover context is determined to be that of maximum return on their investment in relation to the offer and the opportunity to decide on the merits of a bid. Directors of U.S. companies are assigned fiduciary duties and must act in an informed and good faith manner in the interest of the company and its shareholders. These duties apply in a takeover situation and any action in response to an offer must be rational and constitute a reasonable response. Directors of U.K. companies must act in the interest of the company. The duties of U.K. directors in a takeover is to act in the interest of the company vis-à-vis the shareholders, maximize shareholder returns and not deny shareholders the opportunity to decide on the merits of a bid.

As for the relationship between fiduciary duties and deal protection arrangements, rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules prohibits Swedish offeree company boards from committing to any offer-related arrangements vis-à-vis an offeror. Although one may be granted an exemption from the provision, that possibility appears severely limited. In the U.S., deal protection arrangements are reviewed under the business judgement rule and ostensibly permissible. However, deal protections may be analogized to defensive measures and subject to an enhanced scrutiny only allowed within certain parameters. The U.K. regime is very similar to the Swedish and Rule 21.2(a) of the Takeover Code prohibits offeree companies to enter into any offer-related arrangements. The rule is a product of a significant legal reform in 2011. This reform provided a unique opportunity to properly examine the effects of deal protection arrangements on target shareholders. Research shows a substantial and economically significant decline in deal volume in the U.K. after the prohibition was introduced. Moreover, there seems to have been no obvious equipoising benefits to target shareholders. The implications of the U.K. research are supported by research on break fees in the U.S. and Australia. The research on break fees suggests that such arrangements positively affect shareholder wealth by improving deal completion rate and facilitating larger premiums. However, it also shows that the beneficial properties of break fees are dependent on the size thereof.

Rule II.17a of the Swedish Takeover Rules is analyzed on the background of the economic research and regulation in the U.S. and U.K. The conclusion is drawn that deal protection arrangements appear to benefit target shareholders by promoting ex ante deal initiation and competing bids to a larger extent than it deters ex post competitive bidding. Prohibiting deal protection arrangements does not seem to yield higher premiums for target shareholders. Absolute prohibitions of deal protection arrangements appear to obstruct effective competition in the market and subsequent efficient allocation of resources, causing welfare losses. It is consequently doubtful if the Swedish prohibition strengthens target boards’ negotiating position, is beneficial to shareholders or promotes a competitive takeover market. The adoption of a U.K. style of takeover regulation appears misguided as takeovers of Swedish listed companies appear more difficult than in the U.K. due to a larger presence of controlling shareholders. A U.K. style of regulation in Sweden may therefore have unforeseen detrimental effects when taking into account differences in ownership structures and market resiliency. Prohibiting deal protection arrangements may also promote a quantitative increase in irrevocables which may contribute to agency problems between minority and majority shareholders in Swedish companies. Such an increase may prove detrimental to the competitiveness of, and increase transaction costs on, the Swedish market. The possibility of being granted an exemption to rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules does seemingly little to mitigate the potential detrimental effects.

All things considered, the analysis suggests that rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules does not improve competitive conditions, promote target shareholder value or strengthen target boards. The prohibition is therefore unwarranted as overall economic welfare would be improved under a less intrusive regulatory regime. It is suggested that a reversion to the previous regime where deal protection arrangements are allowed if they are in the interest of the shareholders may prove more beneficial for Swedish shareholders. In circumstances where market regulation is necessary, regulation that promotes the efficient allocation of resources should be favored, unless otherwise justified with regards to protective interests. As the prohibition does not seem to fulfill the outlined purposes, it should be evaluated on the basis of its actual effects. The provision therefore appears sub-optimal. Although a reversion would create new problems, these appear insignificant compared to the negative economic effects of the current regime. (Less)
Abstract (Swedish)
Uppsatsen utvärderar och undersöker effekterna av den svenska regleringen
gällande särskilda transaktionsavtal, s.k. budrelaterade arrangemang. Detta genom att undersöka regleringens effekt på den svenska kapitalmarknaden och målbolagsaktieägare. Grunderna för den svenska takeoverregleringen presenteras genom att undersöka de relevanta bestämmelserna i, och förhållandet mellan, aktiemarknadsrätt, aktiebolagsrätt och EU-rätt.

Sysslomannaansvaret för styrelseledamöter i svenska, amerikanska och
brittiska målbolag undersöks. Då ett förvärv av bolaget är för handen och de svenska Takeover-reglerna är tillämpliga innefattar detta ansvar en plikt för målbolagsstyrelsen att tillvarata aktieägarnas intresse. Aktieägarintresset i ett svenskt... (More)
Uppsatsen utvärderar och undersöker effekterna av den svenska regleringen
gällande särskilda transaktionsavtal, s.k. budrelaterade arrangemang. Detta genom att undersöka regleringens effekt på den svenska kapitalmarknaden och målbolagsaktieägare. Grunderna för den svenska takeoverregleringen presenteras genom att undersöka de relevanta bestämmelserna i, och förhållandet mellan, aktiemarknadsrätt, aktiebolagsrätt och EU-rätt.

Sysslomannaansvaret för styrelseledamöter i svenska, amerikanska och
brittiska målbolag undersöks. Då ett förvärv av bolaget är för handen och de svenska Takeover-reglerna är tillämpliga innefattar detta ansvar en plikt för målbolagsstyrelsen att tillvarata aktieägarnas intresse. Aktieägarintresset i ett svenskt målbolag synes enligt doktrin vara maximering av aktieägarvärdet och att alla aktieägare bereds en möjlighet att ta ställning till ett bud. Sysslomannaansvaret för amerikanska styrelseledamöter innefattar en plikt att agera informerat, i god tro och i bolagets och aktieägarnas intresse. Detta innebär att målbolagsstyrelsens agerande i en budsituation måste vara rationellt och utgöra ett skäligt gensvar. För brittiska styrelseledamöter innefattar sysslomannaansvaret i en budsituation en plikt att maximera aktieägarvärdet och bereda aktieägarna en möjlighet att ta ställning till ett bud. Vad gäller förhållandet mellan målbolagsstyrelsens sysslomannaansvar och budrelaterade arrangemang så kan det konstateras att II.17a i de svenska Takeover-reglerna förbjuder målbolagsstyrelser att gentemot budgivare binda sig till några budrelaterade arrangemang. Även om dispens för ett budrelaterat arrangemang kan medges av Aktiemarknadsnämnden så framstår denna möjlighet i praktiken som ytterst begränsad. I USA bedöms budrelaterade arrangemang närmast som en typ av försvarsåtgärd från målbolagsstyrelsen. Hindrande eller tvingande arrangemang är inte tillåtna såtillvida dessa förhindrar målbolagsstyrelsen att maximera budvärdet.

Den brittiska regleringen är betydligt mer lik den svenska. 21.2(a) Takeover Code är i materiellt hänseende likalydande med II.17a i Takeover-reglerna och förbjuder målbolag att gentemot budgivare binda sig till några budrelaterade arrangemang. 21.2(a) Takeover Code är ett resultat av en omfattande reform av takeoverregleringen 2011. Denna reform medförde ett unikt tillfälle att studera effekterna av budrelaterade arrangemang. Den forskning som redogörs för i uppsatsen påvisar en omfattande minskning av transaktionsvolymen i Storbritannien efter att förbudet infördes, vilket tyder på att förbud mot budrelaterade arrangemang har en avskräckande effekt på bud. Vidare visar forskningen att målbolagsaktieägare inte har beretts något ytterligare värde i form av högre budpremier genom förbudet. De negativa konsekvenserna av ett förbud mot budrelaterade arrangemang styrks vidare genom forskning på särskilda budrelaterade arrangemang, break fees, i USA och Australien. Denna forskning visar att break fees bidrar till ökat aktieägarvärde genom ökade budpremier och större antal genomförda transaktioner. Forskningen tyder dock på de positiva effekterna är avhängiga storleken av dessa break fees.

Slutligen analyseras II.17a Takeover-reglerna i ljuset av takeoverregleringen i USA och Storbritannien och den ekonomiska forskningen på respektive transaktionsmarknad. Häri dras slutsatsen att budrelaterade arrangemang snarar tillför, än berövar, målbolagsaktieägare värde. Att förbjuda dessa arrangemang verkar således hindra effektiv konkurrens och därmed en effektiv resursfördelning. Det framstår således som tveksamt att det svenska förbudet uppfyller de syften som framhölls vid antagandet av detta, nämligen att stärka målbolagsstyrelsen förhandlingsposition, öka aktieägarvärde och främja konkurrensutsatta budsituationer i Sverige. Att utforma de svenska Takeover-reglerna efter de brittiska verkar i detta hänseende ha varit mindre välbetänkt då grundläggande olikheter i ägande- och marknadsstrukturer i respektive land kan medföra oförutsedda konsekvenser i Sverige. Förbudet kan vidare medföra att förekomsten av irrevocables (förhandsaccepter) ökar i Sverige. Detta kan förvärra agentproblematiken mellan minoritets- och majoritetsägare i svenska bolag såväl som medföra högre transaktionskostnader och hämma den effektiva konkurrensen. Dispensmöjligheterna i Takeover-reglerna gör till synes lite för att mildra dessa negativa effekter.

Sammanfattningsvis framstår det inte som att II.17a Takeover-reglerna
uppfyller de mål och syften som låg bakom införandet av bestämmelsen. Det
är svårt att se hur bestämmelsen ska kunna förbättra konkurrensmöjligheter, tillföra aktieägarvärde eller stärka målbolagsstyrelsens förhandlingsposition. Förbudet är således inte önskvärt ur ett ekonomiskt perspektiv då den sammanlagda välfärden skulle öka med mindre ingripande reglering. En återgång till det tidigare systemet där budrelaterade arrangemang tilläts såtillvida de ansågs vara i aktieägarnas intresse kan visa sig mer fördelaktigt för svenska aktieägare. När marknadsreglering är nödvändigt bör sådan reglering som främjar effektiv resursfördelning i största möjliga utsträckning förespråkas såtillvida inte andra legitima rättfärdigandegrunder föreligger. Då det nuvarande förbudet inte uppfyller de mål och syften som ansågs rättfärdiga detsamma bör det bedömas utifrån dess faktiska effekter. Sett till faktisk påverkan så framstår den nuvarande regleringen som opåkallat ingripande och suboptimal. Även om det en återgång till det tidigare systemet skulle medföra andra problem, så framstår dessa som obetydliga i förhållande till de potentiella negativa ekonomiska effekterna av den nuvarande regleringen. (Less)
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author
Gustavsson, Marcus LU
supervisor
organization
course
JURM02 20182
year
type
H3 - Professional qualifications (4 Years - )
subject
keywords
associationsrätt, bolagsrätt, company law, law and economics, aktiemarknadsrätt, stock exchange law, comparative law, komparativ rätt, företagsförvärv, takeover, m&a, aktiebolagsrätt
language
English
id
8964623
date added to LUP
2019-01-28 11:34:18
date last changed
2019-01-28 11:34:18
@misc{8964623,
  abstract     = {The thesis evaluates and examines the effects of the Swedish regulation of deal protection arrangements by looking to the impact of the provision on the Swedish capital market and target shareholders. The foundations of the Swedish takeover regulation are examined by presenting and arguing the relevant provisions in, and relationship between, stock exchange law, corporate law and EU law.

Fiduciary duties of target board directors in Sweden, the U.S. and the U.K. are examined. When takeover regulation apply, Swedish target boards are to exclusively observe the collective interest of the shareholders in any action in response to a takeover offer. The shareholders’ interest in a takeover context is determined to be that of maximum return on their investment in relation to the offer and the opportunity to decide on the merits of a bid. Directors of U.S. companies are assigned fiduciary duties and must act in an informed and good faith manner in the interest of the company and its shareholders. These duties apply in a takeover situation and any action in response to an offer must be rational and constitute a reasonable response. Directors of U.K. companies must act in the interest of the company. The duties of U.K. directors in a takeover is to act in the interest of the company vis-à-vis the shareholders, maximize shareholder returns and not deny shareholders the opportunity to decide on the merits of a bid.

As for the relationship between fiduciary duties and deal protection arrangements, rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules prohibits Swedish offeree company boards from committing to any offer-related arrangements vis-à-vis an offeror. Although one may be granted an exemption from the provision, that possibility appears severely limited. In the U.S., deal protection arrangements are reviewed under the business judgement rule and ostensibly permissible. However, deal protections may be analogized to defensive measures and subject to an enhanced scrutiny only allowed within certain parameters. The U.K. regime is very similar to the Swedish and Rule 21.2(a) of the Takeover Code prohibits offeree companies to enter into any offer-related arrangements. The rule is a product of a significant legal reform in 2011. This reform provided a unique opportunity to properly examine the effects of deal protection arrangements on target shareholders. Research shows a substantial and economically significant decline in deal volume in the U.K. after the prohibition was introduced. Moreover, there seems to have been no obvious equipoising benefits to target shareholders. The implications of the U.K. research are supported by research on break fees in the U.S. and Australia. The research on break fees suggests that such arrangements positively affect shareholder wealth by improving deal completion rate and facilitating larger premiums. However, it also shows that the beneficial properties of break fees are dependent on the size thereof. 

Rule II.17a of the Swedish Takeover Rules is analyzed on the background of the economic research and regulation in the U.S. and U.K. The conclusion is drawn that deal protection arrangements appear to benefit target shareholders by promoting ex ante deal initiation and competing bids to a larger extent than it deters ex post competitive bidding. Prohibiting deal protection arrangements does not seem to yield higher premiums for target shareholders. Absolute prohibitions of deal protection arrangements appear to obstruct effective competition in the market and subsequent efficient allocation of resources, causing welfare losses. It is consequently doubtful if the Swedish prohibition strengthens target boards’ negotiating position, is beneficial to shareholders or promotes a competitive takeover market. The adoption of a U.K. style of takeover regulation appears misguided as takeovers of Swedish listed companies appear more difficult than in the U.K. due to a larger presence of controlling shareholders. A U.K. style of regulation in Sweden may therefore have unforeseen detrimental effects when taking into account differences in ownership structures and market resiliency. Prohibiting deal protection arrangements may also promote a quantitative increase in irrevocables which may contribute to agency problems between minority and majority shareholders in Swedish companies. Such an increase may prove detrimental to the competitiveness of, and increase transaction costs on, the Swedish market. The possibility of being granted an exemption to rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules does seemingly little to mitigate the potential detrimental effects. 

All things considered, the analysis suggests that rule II.17a of the Takeover Rules does not improve competitive conditions, promote target shareholder value or strengthen target boards. The prohibition is therefore unwarranted as overall economic welfare would be improved under a less intrusive regulatory regime. It is suggested that a reversion to the previous regime where deal protection arrangements are allowed if they are in the interest of the shareholders may prove more beneficial for Swedish shareholders. In circumstances where market regulation is necessary, regulation that promotes the efficient allocation of resources should be favored, unless otherwise justified with regards to protective interests. As the prohibition does not seem to fulfill the outlined purposes, it should be evaluated on the basis of its actual effects. The provision therefore appears sub-optimal. Although a reversion would create new problems, these appear insignificant compared to the negative economic effects of the current regime.},
  author       = {Gustavsson, Marcus},
  keyword      = {associationsrätt,bolagsrätt,company law,law and economics,aktiemarknadsrätt,stock exchange law,comparative law,komparativ rätt,företagsförvärv,takeover,m&a,aktiebolagsrätt},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {What are we protecting? - A study of the Swedish regulation of deal protection arrangements},
  year         = {2018},
}